For 55 years, they lived together as husband and wife. The husband, Sunday Ugiagbe,Â is 81 and the wife, Alice, 80. Last Sunday, in Benin-City,Â theirÂ marriage was formalised at the Flame of Fire Bible Church, Olor Quarters, Benin-City. While the celebration was on, the UgiagbesÂ spoke to Sunday Vanguard on why it took them so long to have themÂ blessed. Excerpts:
By SIMON EBEGBULEM
MR Sunday Ugiagbe
How old are you now?
I am 81 years. I was born on a Sunday.
So why did you have to wait till now before you had a church wedding ?
I had to wait because I have been seeing some of my mates who rushed into marriage and they will be messing around outside because they no longer love their wives. So I decided to wait to be sure that I am marrying the right person so that I will not make a mistake in the church.
After I passed out from the old standard two, I was employed in Agricultural Office in the then Benin Divisional Council, that was in 1956. From there, I was transferred to Ugiobazuwa and whereever I was transferred to, I always left her behind to take care of the children.
How did you meet yourÂ wife?
I toasted herÂ for a year and six months. She insisted she didnâ€™tÂ want me but I kept pestering her and it paid off one day when she decided to go out with me. I refused to go after another girl because I fell in love with my wife the first day I saw her. No girl was in my life, infact my wife is the only girl I have ever met.
And since I got married to her, I have not had cause to regret it because she is well behaved and she helps a lot in the family. By the time I came back from my station she must have paid the school fees of my children with her own money. And when I returned, she will explain to me and I will pay her half of the money, she will now tell me to forget about paying the remaining. She was doing that because she understood that she was makingÂ more money as a market woman than me who only reliedÂ on salary. But it is not because of her money that made me love her, the love is natural, she is Godâ€™s gift to me.
What was the family reaction when you wanted to marry her?
The family was very cooperative and they were very helpful to me.
What is your advice toÂ the younger ones who would want to get married and even those who are married now?
I always advise them not to marry in a hurry. You must be matureÂ mentally and physically before getting married. I am a very hard man when it comes to bringing up my children and kept advising them against making the wrong choice. And I have never starved my children of any thing.
If they demand for some thing and I do not have, I will go to their mother to help me and she will not disappoint me. Marriage is somethingÂ that is ever lasting; so you do not rush into it. I toasted my wife for over one year and six months and that is because I was patient. I would have gone out to marry another person when she was proving very difficult but I still went aheadÂ because I knew she was the person God meant for me.
So how do you feel today?
I feel great and, as a Deacon in the church, I am very close to God. I retired in 1996 and, since then, I have been managing myself with my wife.
Have you been paid your pension?
No way. You know I worked with both state and federal governments, but it is only in the state that they pay me little money. I thank God my wife is a market woman, she is the one that is always giving me money. It is not easy pursuing pension money and I do not want to die on queue. So I thank God for the wife he gave me because she has assisted me very very much in so many ways.
MRS Alice Ugiagbe
How has marriage been?
We have been married for over fifty five years now and since we got married we have not quarreled. We only did traditional marriage then but we have not blessed the marriage in the church and you know that Godâ€™s blessing is the best. You know that God is the ultimate. All the members of my family are hereÂ for the celebration and we thank God for keeping us till today.
Can you tell us how you met your husband?
I met him when he was still a boy. I was 30 years old then while he was 31 and, immediately thereafter, we got married.
So I have benefited from the marriage all these years and that is why we decided that we must perform the church marriage so that God will not be angry with us.
How many children have you?
We have seven children with many great grand children and I thank God they are all alive and doing well.
How do you feel today?
I feel very happy. I wish you can see inside my heart and see how happy I feel. For that fifty five years we have not quarrelled. My husband understands me very well just like I understand him too. He is a very nice man. Even when he wants to complain about an issue, I will tell him, â€œhoney, leave everything to Godâ€.
How do you cope evenÂ Â when things areÂ Â difficult, you mean you do not grumble at all aboutÂ issues?
Nothing is hard for us. What we do is that if he is at home and I go to the market to sellÂ because I am a business woman, by the time I come back, he must have taken care of all the house work.
The same thing happens when I am at home and he goes to work, before he comes back I must have cooked his best food for him. I do not argueÂ with him because I love him so much. He is somebody that understands me a lot and he does not do things that I do not like.
Does it mean you never suspected him or had any quarrel with him about havingÂ extra-marital affair?
Not at all . I always knowÂ his movement and he is somebody that does not care about any other woman. He is satisfied with me and that is why we have remained very close. In fact, it isÂ God that brought both of us together and that is why itÂ is a perfect match.